Whether you are going on a vacation or visiting friends and family, traveling with a newborn or any baby can be a daunting prospect. Though there are a lot of ways a trip with a baby can go wrong, there are also ways that you can prepare for many of the potential pitfalls. Because I know the uncertainty that many new parents face when when planning their first hotel stay with their new baby, here are some of my most useful tips to help you be more prepared.
1. Bring age-appropriate baby proofing.
For an infant, there is really not much you will need to do to increase the safety of your hotel. However, if your baby can roll over, crawl or pull up to a standing position there are a few things you could do to make your room more safe. If your baby can roll over, you will need to always place pillows or rolled up blankets next to her if she is placed on the bed. If you lay her on a blanket on the floor, you should block access under beds, and cover or blockade floor vents.
For a crawler, outlet covers, curtain pulls and electrical cords should be secured, as well as taping a bit of padding (I use baby wash clothes and artists tape, because the tape comes off without harming paint or finishes) over any low furniture corners. For a near-toddler, secure drawers and cabinets, tape padding on higher corners and secure lamps so that they cannot be pulled down on your baby's head by her tugging on the cord.
2. Bring a hint of home.
If there is a certain scent that you use in your home, like an air freshener or scented cleaner, bring it with you and give your hotel room a good once-over with it. Also items like a used crib sheet can be helpful because scents that your baby finds familiar are often natural body scents that are absorbed into cloth. Your baby has a strong association with smell, and having something familiar, like a scent, can really soothe him. The familiar scent will also assist with sleep and eating. When your chubby little cuddle bug is constantly trying to orient himself in a new environment it can be hard to relax or concentrate on eating for very long. The weakest of your baby's senses is eyesight, so bringing familiar visual stimuli will probably not be as helpful, unless it is something very familiar to your baby, like a mobile or a baby gym.
3. Find out where the local hospital and other emergency services are located.
Your hotel can often supply you with a list of local medical services, but you may want to do a little bit of checking on your own, so that if there is a hospital that is better for babies, you know where it is located and what it is called. Chances are that you will not need such a service, but knowing where they are, and how to get to them will lighten your stress load quite a bit, and in a worse-case-scenario, your baby will be able to receive medical attention much faster.
4. Ask about baby rental equipment like cribs, strollers and highchairs.
Often hotels supply guests with a complimentary crib for babies, but at certain times of the year, there may be a shortage of supply. When asking about the availability of this type of equipment, you can also request reservations if necessary and find out the rates if the hotel charges for the use of baby equipment. In the event that your hotel does not supply the types of baby equipment that you need, you can arrange to bring your own, look into other baby equipment rental shops, or purchase second-hand equipment for the duration of your trip, then re-donate it upon your departure.
5. Some toys that are old, some that are new.
While you will absolutely want to bring a few of your baby's favorite music, books and toys, having a stash of new items to introduce along the way is a great idea. Sometimes your little darling will be cranky and impatient, and old toys will most likely not be a good enough distraction. This is the perfect time to bring out a brand-new item for your baby's enjoyment. It might feel like bribery, but your little honey-suckle is too young yet to grasp the concept of behavior modification for reward, that skill usually kicks in after the age of one at the earliest.
Travelling with your baby will get easier with practice, so don't let the details stress you out to the point that you decide not to go. Over and over again I hear from parents about how easy their babies were to travel with. It is just getting over the initial stress and adjustment to the new environment that can sometimes be a little bumpy. If you have found these tips to be helpful, please forward them to any new or expecting parents you know. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome. Happy parenting!